MUT collaborates with GalaxySpace to establish the first high-frequency satellite ground station at the university

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2024

Aiming to develop satellite internet communication systems, cultivate skilled workforce in space technology and position Thailand as a leader in the space economy in ASEAN.

Bangkok, May 23, 2024 – Mahanakorn University of Technology (MUT), a leading private university in Thailand specializing in engineering and technology, has collaborated with GalaxySpace, the world’s top manufacturer and developer of low-Earth orbit (LEO) broadband satellite communication systems from the People's Republic of China, aiming to develop and test the capabilities of an integrated broadband communication network. This includes both LEO satellite communication and satellite ground stations under the name “Mini-Spider.” This marks Thailand’s inaugural establishment of a satellite ground station utilizing high-frequency Q/V band in a university setting to research LEO satellite technology, reaffirming MUT’s commitment as a research leader in space technology since its establishment. It seeks to produce products and personnel to meet the increasing demand for space technology expertise and propel Thailand towards leadership in the New Space Economy within the ASEAN region.

MUT collaborates with GalaxySpace to establish the first high-frequency satellite ground station at the university

In this collaboration, GalaxySpace has introduced satellite internet technology, including a satellite gateway station for service providers, which is installed at only one location in Thailand, at Mahanakorn University of Technology (MUT). Additionally, GalaxySpace provided a user terminal station for service users, which is portable and can be installed either stationary or on vehicles. MUT has established a space technology research center and built a satellite ground station, gathering a team of researchers, professors and skilled personnel to research this LEO satellite technology. They also conducted experiments and tested the performance in collaboration with engineers from GalaxySpace. Following the first trial in March, it was found that satellite internet could indeed be utilized. Moreover, Thai providers’ internet could be tested through LEO satellite constellation, marking the first in the world.

MUT collaborates with GalaxySpace to establish the first high-frequency satellite ground station at the university

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Panavy Pookaiyaudom, President of Mahanakorn University of Technology, discloses that, “I perceive several potential aspects of Thailand and foresee opportunities for the aerospace industry's growth in the future, which serves as a mechanism to drive the new space economy. Through diverse space services leveraging advanced technology to foster various innovations applicable across diverse industries, MUT has harbored a keen interest in space technology since its establishment. The 'Thai Paht' satellite is a Thai-designed and built satellite, with almost all of the personnel involved coming from our university. Our journey in space technology has been continuous, from upstream developing various components of small-sized satellites, including ground station systems to downstream, utilizing satellite data for various purposes. These endeavors underscore MUT's readiness on all fronts—facilities, knowledge base and personnel expertise who spearhead satellite technology research in the country. Our collaboration with GalaxySpace in establishing a satellite ground station at our university marks a significant opportunity for MUT to play a role in developing LEO satellite technology with a world-leading company. Additionally, this initiative enhances the potential and capabilities of personnel in space technology and innovation, providing opportunities for students and faculty members to gain deep knowledge and experience in space technology. This will contribute to curriculum development, and in the future, these personnel will play a crucial role in enhancing Thailand's readiness in space technology, driving the country towards leadership in the space economy and genuinely establishing a hub for the space industry in the region.”

MUT collaborates with GalaxySpace to establish the first high-frequency satellite ground station at the university

Mr. Peter Huang, Director of International Business Development, GalaxySpace, says that “Thailand's geopolitical landscape offers numerous opportunities for the country's growth in various sectors, positioning it as a key economic player in Southeast Asia. The collaboration between GalaxySpace and MUT focuses on researching and developing an integrated broadband satellite communication network that benefits all stakeholders. This includes enhancing the expertise of MUT's specialized personnel in space technology, elevating teaching standards and enriching student skills through practical training and experiences. GalaxySpace is pleased to share knowledge and co-develop space technology within Thailand, and to collaborate with relevant agencies and organizations to cultivate high-quality professionals in space technology capable of competing internationally. Additionally, one of our intentions is to innovate satellite technology and leverage satellite benefits for mankind, providing high-speed and efficient satellite internet services to the Thai people and beyond.”

Currently, there are various satellite internet services in use, such as the THAICOM-4 satellite, also known as iPSTAR, which is a geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite with an approximate altitude of 35,786 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

Due to the limitations posed by the distance of GEO satellites from the Earth's surface, there has been a development of satellite internet systems utilizing LEO satellites, which orbit at distances ranging from only 500 to 2,000 kilometers above the Earth. Several major satellite service providers from abroad, such as Starlink and OneWeb, operate LEO satellite networks. However, commercial services have yet to be available in Thailand due to the need for regulations from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to ensure fair competition and national benefit.  Therefore, it is necessary to conduct research, experiments and testing of the technology before commercial deployment, to gather data to inform appropriate regulatory frameworks.

MUT collaborates with GalaxySpace to establish the first high-frequency satellite ground station at the university

GalaxySpace Meets the Demand for Satellite Internet Efficiently

The development and testing project of the 'Mini-Spider' system by GalaxySpace, in collaboration with MUT, comprises:

1) Ground segment, divided into 2 parts–is for the internet service provider and the internet user. The internet service provider part includes equipment called gateway stations. This system brings terrestrial internet or home internet up to the broadband satellite constellation. The internet user part includes equipment called user terminals, allowing users to directly connect their, smartphones, tablets, computers or other internet-enabled devices either through wired (LAN) or wireless (WiFi) connections.

2) Space segment, is a group of satellites that will be deployed into low-Earth orbit to connect the internet between gateway stations and user terminals. There are plans to launch at least hundreds of satellites to provide global coverage for commercial use. The Mini-Spider, therefore, acts as a device that delivers internet from one point to another without the need for signal cables. As long as there is open space with a view of the sky and access to a power supply (household electricity), the internet can be used in every area of Thailand.

GalaxySpace's satellite technology employs a new frequency band, Q/V band, which is a high-frequency electromagnetic wave that is expected to be more widely used in the future and has not been extensively utilized in Thailand before. There is a need to monitor and prevent any risks or disruptions to the current operating systems. With excellent cooperation from NBTC, which provides guidance, assistance and support, including issues related to satellite channels, frequency spectrum usage, importing radio communication equipment, as well as granting permission for the establishment of Sandbox areas for a period of 5 years for MUT’s areas in Bangkok and 1 year for 6 other places in many provinces including Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok, Chai Nat, Nakhon Nayok, Rayong and Phuket. This allows the research, experimentation and testing related with satellite technology and innovations by MUT in collaboration with GalaxySpace to proceed according to the research plan.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Panavy adds that “The LEO satellites are typically positioned at heights not exceeding 2,000 km, while GalaxySpace satellites constellation orbit are at approximately 500 km altitude. Based on preliminary testing of the Mini-Spider, we achieved maximum download speeds of around 250 Mbps , upload speeds of about 210 Mbps, and minimum latency  of approximately 32 ms. To put it simply, internet communication via GalaxySpace satellite constellation is significantly more efficient compared to using internet from smartphones utilizing 5G technology in Thailand , which typically reach maximum download speeds of around 175 Mbps, upload speeds of about 23 Mbps, and latency of approximately 28-34 ms. It's evident that GalaxySpace's satellite internet communication system effectively meets user needs, offering comprehensive coverage, high speeds and rapid data transmission responsiveness, enabling customers to conveniently access communication and data services, akin to using the internet via mobile phone networks in urban areas.”

“MUT is a distinguished private university in Thailand, known for its excellence in engineering, technology and innovation. We are committed not only to providing holistic education but also to driving forward new technologies and innovations to support new space economy in Thailand. We recognize the significance of developing potential to enhance the capabilities of our personnel. We firmly believe that this collaboration with GalaxySpace will meet the demand for space technology talent and promote the development of space industry products, driving Thailand's economic development in all aspects. It will propel Thailand towards leadership in the space economy in ASEAN in a meaningful way,” Assoc. Prof. Dr. Panavy concludes.